Koror (Pacific Note) — Palau marked its 22nd Independence Day with traditional fireworks display after the formal opening ceremony at the capitol complex in Ngerulmud, Melekeok on Oct. 1.
President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. delivered his Independence Day remark by reflecting on the theme “A rengeasek a cheotelel a klukuk er kid” – All that we do today builds the foundation for our youth tomorrow.”
Since Palau gained its independence 22 years ago, there’s more to be done, the president said. “Challenges remain. Therefore, this Independence Day we should also reflect on the future – the future we want to build for our children and grandchildren,” Remengesau said. “The next generation will one day take the reins of leadership in this country, and it is our responsibility to make sure that they have all the tools they need to succeed.”
Addressing Palau’s youth, Remengasau said, “You are the ones who carry forward the story of our unique and beautiful islands. You are — each one of you — precious to your parents and your country. It is our responsibility to help you reach your full potential.”
More than 2,000 people filled up Ngerulmud grounds to watch the 15-minute fireworks display, which was followed the next day with a series of events including a boat race and activity booths including food vendors on both sides of the JPF Bride.
The Independence Day festivities started a week earlier with a softball tournament at the Meyuns Softball Field, canoeing, swimming and walk and pick.
On the Ngerulmud celebrations, 75-year-old Japanese professional singer, Shinji, performed two Japanese songs about Palau to the delight of the crowd. A group of Guam dancers travel down to add more varieties to the celebrations.
Palau celebrated its first Independence Day on Oct. 1, 1994 after being an independent nation after spending 47 years under the U.S. Trust Territory.
One federated Micronesian state comprising of four Trust Territory districts was formed in 1979 but Palau choose not to be part of the federation. In 1981, Palau adopted its own constitution, and a year signed Compact of Free Association with the United States. After referendums and amendments to its constitution, Palau became a sovereign nation 1994.
Under the Compact of Free Association with the United States, Palau, including the Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands receives economic assistance (including eligibility for certain U.S. federal programs),. Negotiations for a Compact with the United States began in 1969 with the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) that were comprised of the districts of Kusaie (Kosrae), Ponape (Pohnpei), Truk (Chuuk), and Yap, as well as the districts of the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.
The Compact also provides for defense to Palau and Palauan citizens are eligible to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The economic assistance, renegotiated in 2010 will provide Palau with $215.75 million and as for other benefits under the Compact, Palau will have continued eligibility for a wide range of federal programs and services from agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service, federal weather services, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Agriculture, and Health and Human Services.